How Self-Care Can Help Anxiety and Depression

Healing From Emotional Trauma Contributing to Depression and Anxiety

If you are experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, you might have emotional trauma that is contributing to the problem. Let's discuss risk factors and symptoms of these mental health concerns to help you understand whether you have a mental disorder, potential contributors and what you can do about it. 

Recognizing Risk Factors Contributing to Depression and Anxiety

It could be helpful to see if you have any of these risk factors so that you can explore them on your own and possibly discuss them with a support system or a professional.

  • Physical, emotional or sexual abuse (past or present)
  • Addiction
  • Toxic relationships
  • Prolonged or excessive stress
  • Family history of any of the above

Recognizing Emotional and Psychological Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety

Are you showing any of these symptoms? If so, talk to a doctor or mental health counselor for a proper diagnosis. 

  • Shock, denial and disbelief
  • Confusion and difficulty concentrating
  • Anger, irritability and mood swings
  • Anxiety and fear
  • Guilt, shame and self-blame
  • Social withdrawal
  • Sad or hopeless feelings
  • Numb or disconnected feelings

Healing From Emotional Trauma Contributing to Depression and Anxiety

When you recognize risk factors and symptoms of these mental health disorders, you can take steps to heal from the emotional trauma underlying the depression and anxiety. There are different ways to accomplish this goal.

Seek Support

While it’s easy to feel alone when you’re trapped in your mind with trauma, anxiety and depression, many sources of support are all around you. You can ask for help from the people who are already in your life and reach for new forms of support from professionals. Make sure to gain support from people who will be a positive influence rather than ones who might worsen your mental health. Consider the following types of support:

  • Friends: It's helpful to have someone to talk to about your problems or someone to bring your focus away from them for a while. You might already have a number of people in your life who would be happy to provide support if you'd only reach out. If you are in need of new friends, look into local groups and activities that could help you meet people.
  • Family: Family is another source of support for many people. Talk to your loved ones, especially any family members who live with you, about what you’re going through. Family members may be able to support you in various ways, such as lending an ear or helping you with some of your responsibilities.
  • Primary Doctor: If you think you have anxiety or depression, your primary doctor could provide treatment as well as referrals to mental health specialists.
  • Licensed Counselor: Another option is to have visits with a licensed mental health counselor who has training in the treatment of anxiety and depression.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: If you are thinking about or planning suicide, do not wait for an appointment with a doctor or counselor. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 now. Someone will be ready to answer your call and help you any time of day or night.

Double Down on Self-Care

While you should reach out to others when you need their help, it’s also possible for you to help yourself. Even if you receive professional support, you will still need to put effort into your healing process, so self-care is essential no matter what. There are many ways you can take care of yourself when you’re facing anxiety or depression.

  • Focus on Lifestyle: On a day-to-day basis, focus on following healthy practices that promote your mental and physical health and well-being. Maintain proper hygiene, take steps to get enough sleep, and choose healthy foods that energize and support your body and mind. Also, surround yourself with healthy environments and relationships that foster your healing process and personal growth.
  • Process Emotions: Emotions are natural, even when they're confusing or contradicting. It’s important to accept that it’s okay to cry, laugh and make noise. Address and process your feelings as you experience them through journaling, drawing, singing or other creative outlets. Just be careful not to vent excessively and end up with unhealthy rumination that causes you to focus too much on negatives, which can reinforce problems. Address your feelings and reclaim your story, creating self-empowering journaling. At the end of every venting session, try to end with an encouraging word to yourself.
  • Have an Arsenal of Self-Soothing Tools: Be ready for an anxiety attack or state of depression by having tools that can help you. These could include:

Practicing Mindfulness and Sensory Experiences: Practice being aware of your mental state and the world around you. You might appreciate small things in life more, such as the beauty of a flower or the pleasure in the scent of a baked good. Activate your senses. For example, engage taste through mindful eating and fully focusing on your food, touch through feeling a warm bath or blanket, smell through a candle or nature, sight through pleasant scenery or a mental visualization, and sound through music or nature.

Moving Your Body: Exercise boosts your mood, feeling of happiness and your overall mental health, so it’s a great way to improve anxiety and depression. Try different exercises to find ones you enjoy, such as dance, yoga or walking in nature.

Relaxing: Take the time to focus on yourself and truly relax. If it helps, set an alarm to set aside time without feeling like it will take your day off track. Use your time to read, practice deep breaths, take a bubble bath, focus on relaxing each muscle of the body one by one, or engage in another restful activity.

Getting Connected: Reaching out to other people is a great way to get into a better state of mind. Consider calling or texting a friend or family member, attending a class or activity, volunteering to help people in the community or meeting new people.

  • Remember That Healing Is a Process: The healing process can take you up and down, and back and forth. Depending on what is going on in your life and how your experiences relate, feelings that you’ve processed before may rise again. Don’t be too hard on yourself if this happens, and process these feelings as they arise. At the same time, try not to hold on to the pain for too long, and work to continue moving forward. This process can feel scary and uncertain, but the comfort zone sometimes keeps us stuck. Breaking free into unfamiliar territory can bring health, happiness, new opportunities and independence. Remember to take your tools, rest when needed, and then get back out there. Eventually, the discomfort that comes with change and uncertainty will be the very thing that transforms your confidence. Your comfort zone expands every time you take a step out of it.